Friday, October 7, 2016

The Blackest of Octobers- Subscribe to the Podcast!

T & M Podcast- The Blackest of Octobers

Many of you know that this is where you can find the latest contributions of Black Maggie. Hopefully you enjoy this week's episode, and for those of you that are not big on SoundCloud, we are available on every major podcast outlet. The above link will take you to Google Play... but we're on iTunes as well.

Share, Like, Comment, Subscribe and Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Life After The Big A$$ Deal

Here's what they don't tell you about life after you've hit a number of your goals:  

Just when you think you've made it out, life is going to draw back and hit you square in the mouth. The trick is, it's not about the punch... it's about how long it takes you to wipe your face and get back in the fight.  Because life doesn't need a timeout, and it's going to keep swinging. So while some may learn to block and weave, the ones that really "make it", learn how to take the blow and just keep going.  It's because they know that getting hit is inevitable when you're trying to get the title. They aren't surprised, they're prepared.

If it hurts, that means you're still here to feel the pain. Figure out what it takes to get you back in your stance and let loose on that #%. Now is the time to get comfortable with the fact that you have the power to turn a thought into a thing. It's a strange pill to swallow. You can't let that freak you out, and you certainly can't look at this as the end of the road. There's always something new that you can do. There's always a next thing.

People always push you to dream big and chase after them, but nobody really explains that overwhelming feeling of "What now?". It's normal, and there's nothing wrong with you, however that energy is going to bring into orbit a lot of people and situations that were once kept at bay when you were completely driven. Whatever you do, do not get back into the rotation of that low vibration nonsense.

I know that I started talking in "Shea Butter", but follow me.

You do not have any obligation to get back into a toxic groove just because those people and things have been waiting on you to finally take your eyes off a prize. But here's the only need something new, you don't have to try and top the last thing, you don't have to make a bigger splash. You just need to continue a positive and healthy path.

I finished my MBA and everybody's like "When are you going for that Doctorate?", but if I know that what I want out of life is to own my own business and help other people achieve the same thing, I know it does not require the next degree to make that happen. If I didn't have a firm grip on what I'm trying to accomplish overall then I can see how I could easily fall into the what's next trap of trying to achieve some undefined next level.

So back to the fight analogy.

Roll with the punches, stay in the fight, and know that endurance, strength and speed all have a place in the match that they need to be deployed. Very rarely is it all at the same time. Chill. You got this!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Manage your own Subscription

There are so many things that we subscribe to on a daily basis...Gym memberships that we never use, streaming apps, news feeds, podcasts and the like. All things that we initially engage in an effort to create an increase in our lives. Either more entertainment, health or knowledge. These things all have opt-out terms. You always have the option to suspend or cancel these connections. Some of us are so good, that we can subscribe and opt-out before ever getting charged.

Not so much as it pertains to the constructs and imposed norms of society. These subscriptions have cancellation fees that seem too high for us to ever gain the courage to complete the un-subscribe process. Many of these all too high fees reside only in our heads.

Let's get on the same page:
By a show of hands sitting right where you are reading this, how many of you believe that you should own a house by 30? How many of you believe that you should have a degree by 25? How many of you believe that you should be married by 28? How many of you believe that you should have about 2 kids by 35?  How many of you believe that you should be independently wealthy by 40?

Now I know that not everyone raised their hands at all of these things, but I'm going to guess that one of these got you. Now my next questions are; What happens if that doesn't take place? Are you any less "you"?  Do you consider yourself a failure? Do you even want any of the above?

Finally... Who told you there's only one way?

There comes a time in all of our lives to make an assessment of what we value, which goals are worth chasing, and which things we pursue that we qualify as actual goals and not just stops along the way. Do not allow someone else to put a clock  and ruler on your life. Do not allow anyone else to opt you in on what's in store for your life.

Last month I got a chance to share a portion of the long story of how I got to college with the MSJU Upward Bound youth as part of a panel. Some kids had concerns about job availability after their years of hard work in school... I thank God that He opened the door for me to get on my soapbox about jobs but as I write this I want to apply this to the whole rest of life.

So what!?!?

If you have a skill that you are willing to provide to a company to help make them profitable, you can take that same education and energy to create something for yourself! If you feel like people won't give you a chance,  MAKE YOUR OWN CHANCE! The same goes with every other life-happening that your experience a setback. Detour as needed and don't ever devalue yourself, just keep moving forward and if you get a chance to catch-up or get ahead, simply be grateful.

Rejection/failure is just an opportunity for a different type of success so do not be afraid of hitting the un-subscribe button on things that don't apply to you. Don't hold yourself up to the thoughts and ideas of other people, and know that if you keep waking up, you've still got a chance to make great things happen, whatever that looks like.

Be Strong out there people.

They don't want to see you moving at your own pace. They don't want to see you reaching your own goals! -(inspired by DJ Khaled

Thursday, July 21, 2016

A Sense of Community..

T&M Podcast- Community Hips (Episode 3)-

There used to be a time that it didn't take a lot to make it. Most of the things that we needed were a short walk away, and our neighbors were a network of resources akin to a Tribe.

I've been sharing the story of Ms.Dott, the neighborhood babysitter as a reference to that simpler time as you'll hear in the Podcast. She symbolizes the neighborhood watch, the extra set of hands, and the spare cup of sugar. She is what we have lost with this wave of Gentrification over the past decade. Her story represents what we need to fight to restore.

This week's post is just a quick note to remind you that there was a time that we could count on one another, so we are capable of it being that way again. If you have ways that you get involved and maintain a sense of community, share those tips in the comment section. My goal is to get the voice of my readers into the ears of my new listeners. You all always have great input, so I look forward to what you have to say.

Until next time...

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

T & M Podcast.... The beginning

I know that I've been away for a while. I had a corporate conference to help run with a team of amazing people and now I've got a new podcast.

Black Maggie's been busy... all this just before my birthday.

Happy 6th of July in advance! Subscribe to the podcast and as always,  let me know what you think.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

You are who you REALLY you are. (Reflective Opinion Piece)

There's an old saying "tell me who your friends are and I'll tell who you are".

Lots of motivational speakers like to drop that line and make people feel like the power to push your life in the direction that you choose is up to the circle that you curate. While there are elements of truth in the transference of energy and the ability of friends to both open and close doors to an extent. The uncomfortable truth is. You are who you REALLY you are.

Let's examine some things.
What do you value?
I have friends that I can call anytime, and I also have friends that have to call me... Among all of them the common threads are loyalty, kindness and solidarity. In all cases the diversity of my friend base has helped me learn to survive/thrive in many situations, from knowing what to do while staring down the barrel of an AK-47 (I'll tell that story one day) to how to make a great impression at a country club fundraiser. If you surround yourself with people that care about you and want to see you live and succeed, then it doesn't really matter how many connections they have that you can use. They love you and they do things for you because they feel like it.

I had a professor tell me that she curates her networking list to only people that she believes would do a favor for her. While I'm sure that she thinks that this is a very business savvy idea, she's one of the most friendless people I've ever met. Out of respect for her I refrained from commenting but I wanted to tell her. "Don't you know people don't like you for real?" Her whole life as she's described it is a series of transactions. She counts every thank you she receives and notes every let down. She values favor trades and not the genuine connection. Real friends couldn't tell you if you're even or not. In this case her friends may be seeking a genuine connection, but she's undeniably a user.

Where are you going?
Life is a journey with highs and lows. If the only time that you show love is when you're in the high points, you'll find that time will take you and those that you've connected with to your own versions of low points. Just because a person is not doing what you are doing, doesn't mean that they are not a positive piece in your life puzzle. What does any of their life decision have to do with your standing on your own principles and decision making skills? If you do things because other people do things then that just makes you a follower.

How do you see yourself?
There's always someone better, and there's always someone worse. If you have a hard time accepting this fact then this piece very well may define you. Being the person that lives on one end of the spectrum or the other is going to prove to be hard to find people that want to be around you. In those cases, real friends are the least of your worries, and probably few and far in-between.

If you only find your self worth in what others say about you, where you get invited or how many times you get picked over someone else, it's really easy to help you figure out who you really are underneath everything shiny... a nobody or even worse, a slave to the favor of others. That means that nothing that you do is juts for you. Your inner art has been squelched by your need to be liked.

What's the point?
It's not that your friends define you, it's that who you are determines who will be in your presence. So don't even waste your time trying to solve your problems of how people see you with getting certain people out of your life. Concentrate on the one thing in this world that you have control of, who you really are. In owning up to how much of this equation belongs to you, you'll find that you attract other responsible, accountable, and honest people while people that don't mesh well with that energy will fade to black on their own.

... but that's just how I feel about it. Tell me what you think in the comment section. I look forward to the conversation.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Inheritance... (reflective motivational journal entry)

Many of you that have taken the time to get to know me on other platforms know that I'm about my paper. But today's post has very little to do with money. Today I'm talking about the inheritance that you don't have to talk to the IRS about. The other day I got called "older people" and as much as it stung, it was a call to action and a realization that I am now being looked to for an "inheritance".


When I was a kid, I studied with my parents. What do I mean? I mean, my father would give me the book/ paperwork for his advancement exam to become an engineer on the fire truck and have me read back his highlighted sections. My mother would do her homework all over the house for getting her Real Estate license and even when she took a few classes towards finishing her BS before she officially "went back to school". It mattered whether or not the tests were passed. It mattered how high the scores were, yet nobody really checked my report card during high school. Why? Because they were secure in the fact that they had given me my inheritance early in life. I had learned that the difference between me living the life I wanted and failing was as simple as failing to do the un-fun part.

One of the first things that my Grandfather taught me was how to read things for myself. He showed me how the bus system worked, and took me to the library as soon as I was old enough to get a card of my own. Some of his last words to me when I came to visit him the Thanksgiving before he passed was "Not everything is fatal." This was in response to me feeling an enormous amount of shame after having introduced him to my first husband. He didn't judge people, and even though by the end of the trip we all knew that I'd made a huge mistake... he wasn't worried about me because he knew that he had given me my inheritance early in life. I can read anything in English, to comprehension. That came in handy when it was time to complete my divorce without a lawyer as well as finishing my BA in Paralegal Studies once I finally gained my freedom.

My mom's mom (Granny) was extremely credit conscious. She paid for most things in cash, and anything that she bought with credit she did so with a solid repayment strategy. She taught me how to save my change for big purchases and be patient when filling a want rather than a need. She also taught me how to learn to do things for myself. She could fix a toilet, some broken concrete on the stairs, switch out spark plugs, put a new p-trap on a sink. All of the things that she learned to do herself helped her save money even when she wasn't able to do them anymore because nobody could pull the "lil lady" routine on her and overcharge. She signed up for all of the warranties, so she never bought the same thing over and over. I did my best to inherit all of these things, but Granny was a different kind of tough, so while there are some things that I need to pay other people to do, I make sure that I learn what the job takes before I make the call.

Now the above are just the good things. There's some not so great things that I've inherited as well. Without naming any specific sources I have a fear of germs and most activities that could be considered "thrill-seeking".  I beat up on myself if I don't win. I love shiny new things, I have a hard time buying outside of my preferred name brands and I hate inconsequential chit-chat with strangers just to name a few.


Think about the examples that you set in the lives of the young people around you on a regular basis. That's their inheritance. I have God-kids in which I hope to instill the spirit of entrepreneurship and reading everything, especially before they sign. We go through this life and we do our best to make it to the next level and all the while, the young people are watching. So if we never try to be great, or if we try again after we fail, they inherit the byproducts of our actions.

There's a unique situation in the Black community when it comes to what we pass down. Not to say that there aren't many of us that have things in place in an effort to create generational wealth, but we (broad sense of we) tend to ignore the positive impact that good habits and solid strategic planning can have on sustaining anything that we create monetarily. If we are sure to pass down not just cash and words of wisdom, but acts to follow, we can see an increase that can't be shaken by an "-ism".

The Grandparents of our parents invested in land and passed down trades. Many of us have decided that the ways of old are no longer sufficient or we got tired of having to continuously rebuild (*cough Roswell, Rosewood, Black Wall Street cough*). But if we just keep in mind that we are going to leave behind something even if we don't try, we may find ourselves trying to do/be better in the name of the ones that will follow. Because they are totally watching the... "older people". :)


Tell me what you think. Am I way off base with this one? I'd love to hold that discussion in the comment section as usual. Just an interesting aside, I usually try to add some pictures to the posts to keep you engaged, but I Googled "inheritance" and there were no stock pictures of black hands passing anything between one another. Then I modified my search to "black inheritance" and "inheritance black" only to find the logo of a death metal band and this link....

Sooo.... maybe we can talk about that too.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Flip a Finna Into a Did

I’ve been away for a while taking care of some business that simply did not allow for much time to blog. I took a stab at completing a review but just like everything else that didn’t make it to priority one boarding on my mind plane, it got left behind. I decided to come to you today because there’s something positive from my journey that I’d like to share.

Finnas shouldn’t last always.

This is derivative of my life’s driving philosophy long before I learned of a bucket list or anything else. My objective in life is to take everything that I’ve stated I’m fixing to/finna (depending on your country upbringing), or getting ready to do, and turn them into a list of things that I did. I should not spend my entire life with that list looking the same, and never checking anything off. If you follow my work from other blogs, you may already know that I have worked so many different jobs, and in so many different industries, especially during the dark times in my life, and that philosophy is part of why I've worked that way.

How do those things relate? Well ever since I found out that I needed to take control of my own destiny when it came to getting to college by joining the Navy I set a few long term goals in those moments; I’d have good credit, I’d own a house, I’d get a couple of degrees, I’d learn how to function in all of the parts of a company (walking corporation was the term I used at around 13), I’d start my own business.
This has been the year of the dying “finnas” and I am grateful to get a chance to share my drive and strategies with others via independent management and consulting.

Girl What’s the Point?

I really want to help other people learn how to get into the mode of attacking their “one day” list. Just because I'm the type of person that will work at a doggy daycare scraping poo and feeding dogs just to be sure that my credit doesn’t drop below a place that it can be repaired, doesn't mean that works for everyone.  There’s both an art and a science to capturing your dreams and I’ve simplified them into a few universal tips below.

1. Be Early for your deadlines. I mean every time you get something to do, kill it as fast and accurately as you possibly can. Look at a task as an enemy that must be destroyed with extreme prejudice and show up early for your meetings.

2. Over-deliver. Top yourself every time you get called up to do something. If somebody wants you to make a hat, make that hat and also make some embellishments that can be interchanged. Do the most because everything that leaves your hands, whether you actually write your name on it or not, is a reflection of you.

3. Give props to anybody else that’s out here doing their best. The positive energy from giving love and good vibes to others in your position will set you up metaphysically to be in the right places and surrounded by the right people.

4. Do not be afraid to change your strategy to reach you ultimate goal. I went to school for a whole lot of things with the idea in mind that I’d use those skills to help me work through college, then the GI Bill changed and even though I don’t need those other things to make a living, they have opened doors that allow me to be extremely versatile in how I survive and thrive. I still stopped focusing on those things and captured the pieces of paper that would take me where I was trying to go. The only wrong answer in trying to win is giving up, everything else is up for interpretation.

5. Recognize the power in sacrifice. There’s lots of things that I’ve had to say no to in the last 7 years in order to be in a position to say yes to the things that are on target with my goals. You are the only one responsible for you getting where you’re trying to be. This isn’t exclusive to financial parameters, but check your energy as well. Sometimes people, places and/or things won’t put you in the right head space making 'No' the only answer that makes sense.

“It hurts but it may be the only way.” -Kanye West (the version we all love)

In the interest of keeping this short I just want you to know that I’m still here knocking out finnas, but that list has gotten extremely short in the past six months. I walk for my MBA in May, and I finish all my classes in August (let's pray this 4.0 sticks). I value being able to come to you all and pour out my heart and mind on things. I hope that you find this post increases your positive energy and if you needed a little motivation to bust a move, I hope that it did that too.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Blackest Weekend of the Blackest Month... (Journal/Reaction)

This is my take on the high I'm feeling after the blackest weekend in the blackest month. 

I'm black all day every day, not just in February. The weekend prior to this one was spent trying to make a dent in helping a city that's mostly black feel some sense of love after having been poisoned by their (our) government. Although there were faces from multiple backgrounds I couldn't help but feel like the things going on in Flint are a direct attempt to extinguish the poor and the black by any means possible. This was how we started off our Black History Month, reeling from the emotional ride and 18 hour day of service and still feeling like we couldn't do enough. Also feeling like, what the hell could anybody have done to deserve this? 

In the background of the Flint mission, I was on The Daniel Fast with my church family. We had a prayer call every evening, and even though there were praise reports on the calls, there were still points during the fast in my personal life that I felt like "oh my Lawd" with the hood problems. Keep in mind that my body was in a state of hunger and so that reaction may have been 70% hanger fueled, but nonetheless, I was "Tide..". Because no matter how many degrees, titles or accolades we receive, we still have cousins and homies that remind us of both, how far we have come, as well as how far we still need to go as a people. 

Since I decided to work in corporate, much of my day consists of being black in a way that doesn't make the people that do business with me uncomfortable...because that's just the way the game is. I'm almost 6ft tall, and that above kinky head is mine... so sometimes I'm not always successful in the attempt. 
So when I got a weekend jam packed with all the out loud blackety blackness that my little heart beating inside of my black body could stand...

Ladies,  you know how you feel when you get home and take off your bra? 

Guys,  you know how you feel when your girl isn't home so you can fart, scratch and leave the seat up without getting yelled at?

That kind of freedom.

BEYONCE BEING WOKE OUT LOUD- Official Site to watch the Formation Video

Followed by her being Woke, LIVE in front of everybody, backed by what felt like a sea of black women in Afros and Berets in honor of the 50th Anniversary of the Formation of the Black Panther Party... 

All of these things, to the backdrop of Super Black Huey... I mean Cam Newton playing for the Panthers, in the 50th Superbowl. I wore my "My Black is Beautiful" t-shirt all Sunday... and as far as I'm concerned, Beyonce won the Superbowl. Shout out to Peyton and all but, well you see it. 

I am so excited for the generation of little kids that are old enough to know what they are seeing. Don't you know that when I was 5 Whoopi Goldberg  and Oprah Winfrey were who I saw on TV that looked like me. I'm sure many of us almost peed our pants when the world was introduced to Lisa Leslie because she was tall. Don't even get me on thick version of Serena Williams during the years of early adulthood and body image shaping, when I was serving in a Navy that told me that my big butt was "Un-sat". 

Many of us had to be comfortable learning how to define our own version of Blackness because usually if we showed up on television, there weren't 5 of us at once, let alone a football field worth, at the same time, not just doing something with the ball. So while some may have been watching this weekend unfold as just another great marketing move, there's plenty of us that feel like... just let us have it. 

As always, we can talk in the comments section. 
-Black Maggie 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Flint Water Crisis (Why I've been away and how you can help)

The Rundown-
A view of the Flint River in downtown Flint, Mich.,
Jan. 24, 2016. Photo by Danny Wilcox Frazier/VII for MSNBC
Click on the picture to get the latest timeline of events in Flint as told by MSNBC. 

This past week I've been working diligently with the zealous ladies of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.. Both my home chapter Pi Sigma Zeta (PSZ) in Forest Park, OH and the Flint, MI Chapter Zeta Beta Zeta (ZBZ) have been working hard to:
1.Bring fresh water to the people of Flint
2. Maximize the donated dollar through bulk purchases. 

The Plan-
PSZ is collecting money on behalf of ZBZ to facilitate a bulk purchase here in Ohio. The price that we were able to secure with coupons, club memberships and sweat equity is cheaper than the bulk pricing including delivery that was quoted to ZBZ. Also our chapter has just a few more lightly seasoned new grads able to sling and haul water up the highway. That's for everybody that's been wondering "Why not just send the money directly to the Flint Chapter?" It's because as everyone knows in times of disaster and resources are at a premium, prices go up on products and delivery. I could write about how I feel about that, but the bottom line is, we don't have crisis prices here in Cincinnati so that means... more water. 

Saturday January 30th PSZ will link up with ZBZ at the National Pan-Hellenic Council Water Collection Drive with the water that we've been able to purchase at the lower price and also a check to aid in the upcoming ZBZ drive. If you just got mad as hell with the rest of us and have loaded your car with water to give, we can help you unload it there. 

The Latest on Collecting-
PSZ is making our bulk purchase tomorrow evening and loading at our local Costco at 5:30pm. We are STRETCHING every donated dollar. Our overhead was locked at $200 for the truck and we have more than covered that as a Chapter through our individual donations.

Not one dime of the money donated from the public is allocated for anything other than fresh, clean, tasty WATER...Gas? we got that.

How You Can Still Help!-

We just need you to show out in the home stretch so that once we fill our truck we have extra money to give to the Flint Chapter for another bulk purchase. Even better Tia Coles and the Sorors of the Zeta Beta Zeta Chapter are going to focus on the elderly and other people that can't get to the drives. So your donations are assuring that those left behind are remembered.

Don't think there's such thing as a small donation. Don't you know that $5 will provide 2.5 cases.. that's 5 people that can drink the recommended amount of clean water a day. $1=1 person $10=10 people... Every drop counts! 

Also when you add your name to the role of donors via PayPal sending to you will receive a full report of the work you've done, written BlackMaggie style ;) "Girl Whet?" Moments included if they occur. I just want you to smile at your good works!
Thank you for allowing me to use this space to talk about some work we're doing for our neighbors. 

Flint Population: 74,000, 57% are Black... that's 42,180 people that look like me. 
Oh I care, and thank you for caring too! -Black Maggie

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Silver Lining Finding (another reflective travel piece)

The metaphor of life being a journey is one that everyone uses when they hit the rough spots and need to remind themselves that there's more road ahead. This past weekend contained every emotion humanly possible. The physical manifestation of the journey of life via the American tradition of the road trip.

 I'm not huge on boring time-lines, as you know so here are the highlights.

The Feels-

For the first time in 7 years Mr and all his siblings were under one roof. I had the honor of riding down with him and all his brothers to meet up at their sister's house to surprise his mother for her (over 40)th birthday.

  This makes for two weekends in a row for me in celebration of the life of our respective mothers. This time the backdrop was Charlotte, NC. which I have calculated as: ( Charlotte= Atlanta + Nashville + Ohioans) or Chat-la-nati.

We all shared food, drinks, stories, laughs and even tears. The look on Mr's mom's face and her impromptu speeches throughout the weekend made everything else that I'm about to share below so worth it.

Girl Whet? Moments-

Moment 1. Winding the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains in an old school Chevy packed with four grown men and a fabulously not skinny yours truly, a cloud appears on the road in the distance. The light of the sun extinguishing for the day, it's absence made more prevalent with the canopy of trees overhead. I find myself at the wheel of the vehicle being charged with the duty of the safe arrival of the precious cargo (all these great big men) to the given destination. When from the back seat I hear "Just follow the lines and go." Rage welling up like a storm I assert my apprehension. "Can I just be really honest, this is terrifying right now and everybody out here is <F'in> up." Pseudo-brother-in-law (PBIL) was on my ACTUAL nerves. I kept it cute, but he was about to meet "Marri" right there on the side of that mountain.

 We finally make it through the fog just in time for the next turn. Still in a fiery rage and coming down from the anxiety of feeling as though a death of being smacked in the face by the unseen back of a broken down semi- was eminent... I miss the turn.

Don't you know Mr had the nerve to suck his teeth?
I was so damn mad that he said. "Now it's going to take an extra 5 minutes." I contemplated the cost of a last minute one way ticket back home both financially and socially. I went into perpetual eye roll mode until I could find a hot rag to wipe the road off and get into the festive mood of the party.

Moment 2. It's been a while since I booked on Priceline for several reasons but since we had to work until nearly the last days prior to driving down to sort out the details of the trip we refrained from buying the good non-refundable deals ahead of time. FWD to me riding down the highway after the gas stop (guys always have to pee) knowing that we'll be much later than normal checking in, we call the hotel in an effort to secure a King sized bed... not a suite upgrade, just a bed change.

Don't you know the individual on the phone tried to get us for $10? I just said ok on the phone so that they wouldn't release the room (I'm nearly 6ft tall, I ain't sleeping on a double & paying money to do it). Luckily when we finally checked in I was able to appeal to the common sense of the manager on duty and got that $10 fee waived. Never in my life have I heard of such a thing, and if that's something new that the hotel industry is trying to roll out, go ahead and stop that nonsense now. I promise to goodness I was just about to buy a sleeping bag from Target and catch some floor at Mr's sister's house.

Moment 3.
Shake, rattle and roll.- In the beginning I thought I was being a car snob. As the proud driver of a VW Jetta with a Turbo engine, I'm used to a certain type of ride (Didn't that sound horrible? I laughed at myself.). In an effort to sort out the logistics of transporting 5 adults and luggage we took Greased Lightening the 2000 Chevy that has never let us down... until this trip when it decided to do the stanky leg all the way to Charlotte with varying severity. There was a time while we drove that I just knew that the tire was going to fly off and we'd end up dead in the Smokies, to be eaten by the local wildlife prior to our retrieval. Fortunately Mr and I believe in the power of a warranty and we cashed that ticket several times with Firestone to be sure that we could make it home. That story is next.

The Twirl-
1. Firestone Liars- I used to think that you only got tried at the mechanic if you were a woman walking in alone. I was so wrong. We stopped at one location only to be told there would be an insanely long wait and to try another location after they did a safety check on the lug nuts.

We get to the second location and they give us a list of free services that we can have that come with our warranty. In the interest of safety we agree to them all. One trip to the coolest little nerd heaven ever, two naps and a discussion about politics later we've invested 2 hours to determine that there's an oil leak and a bent rim.

Through the center aisle we walk over to the car and see a puddle of oil and the bottom of the car looks like a fresh piece of chicken. Nevermind the fact that this has NOTHING to do with a shaking front end, these fools then proceed to tell us that the bent rim is the cause for the shaking and they have rotated it to the back. "Is everything OK now?" we ask. "Yes everything is fine, just check that oil" they lie.

Two more trips to alternate locations and we find out from a strong looking woman named T (I trusted her with my car immediately)  that the issue has nothing to do with the tires and the problem won't kill us on the way home.

Don't you know T didn't say a damn thing about oil?

Children Reading-
Mr and I live an alternative lifestyle apparently. We are over 25 living together, unmarried and without children *GASP OUT LOUD & CLUTCH YOUR PEARLS*

Although we are not the only ones out here freestlying, this past weekend ended up featuring one of my favorite little kids to hear talk, Mr's nephew, accidentally reading us both for filth in 2 seconds.

Kids are generally honest and common sense driven, and when you hit them with something that simply does not compute, some hold it silently and ask their parents later... others hit you right in the mouth with it. Simple exchange:
"Say hey to Margaret, Auntie Margaret."-Mr
"Are y'all married?"- Mr's Nephew
"Ask him again baby!"- Black Maggie
Later on for those battlefield promotions, I need some pinned on brass to charge that hill Cap'n. Needless to say that kid didn't have to beg for a high five out of me the whole weekend, I was showing up for every single one.

We finally made it back to the hotel to sleep for the night after kicking it hard with the family. Snuggled up and cozy after finally getting my Afro twisted down between exhausted spurts of work I start dreaming about being asleep, so you know it's good. Then out of the silence the fire alarm goes off at 5:58am.

I'm a firefighter's kid, for my newer readers, and anything fire safety related has been drilled in my head repeatedly throughout my entire life...not just my childhood. We move like the wind and are able to put on enough clothes to be legal and not freeze, grab the keys to the room and get out.
   Problem 1- The map on the door is supposed to tell you your path and meeting spot. It did not so I had to devise the plan that put us in the least danger. I determine walking through the outdoor courtyard gives us the most options without putting us on an unmanned side of the building.

On the way out we walk through the workout room into the courtyard and there's a lady on the treadmill tearing it up at about a 6.5 nonstop. I notice the deafening silence in the room and the absence of the alarm. She has no clue what's going on. So being the good citizen that my parents raised, I wave my arms and alert her to the alarm.

Don't you know that heffa said yeah and shrugged without breaking stride.
"Die then, hell.." I walk off.

According to the lady that supplied the hot cookies and breakfast coupons for my inconvenience, there was an incident in the boiler room. To the credit of the Charlotte FD, they got there in a hurry and in an orderly fashion. I was beyond tired, but that free breakfast was everything I needed for the day that lay in wait.

The only thing better than the smile on Mr's mom's face and the laughs that everyone shared in fellowship was finding this little store during our TWIRL at the second Firestone. Sound, lights, retro memorabilia, funky pieces of custom furniture. If only they had a shipping solution to get the items to Cincinnati; I would've bust a dent in my credit card buying trying to buy all the things that I loved. Enjoy the photos because there's no amount of words that will do the store justice. They aren't on any social media right now, but I told the guy I'd make sure that changed after this weekend.

Final Thoughts-
This journey was a trip indeed. I can't remember a time that more things went both so wrong and so right all in a 72 hour window. We didn't win the Powerball, and the Bengals let me down again like they have my whole life, but we won several "Effective Adulting" points for refraining from acting up the whole weekend. Life will send you through the ringer on some days, and as we've seen, maybe an entire weekend.

Yet, the key to making it to the other side of the fog is keeping your eyes on the silver lining, and just go. Turns out PBIL was right.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Black and Slightly Bourgoisie in Nashville (A journal entry)

The Setup-

My first trip of 2016 was in celebration of my mother's landmark birthday. To give you a little background, my mother and I have always had a very... unique relationship. This relationship has resulted in decades of us trying to figure out how to get along. She's a Capricorn and I'm a Cancer which in short means that we are one another's opposite on most things yet we are both fascinated by strange/abnormal things. This is why a semi-short notice trip to both the symbolic and literal half-way point was both appropriate for our personalities and necessary. 

I thought that I wanted to share the details of this trip in chronological order but that's the blogging equivalent of asking you to watch slides. I'd rather give you the stories and my observations grouped together by relevant categories. Enjoy!

Ok Google- 
So we both had a four hour trip ahead of us and we coordinated leaving our homes at the same time; her from Atlanta, me from Cincinnati. At first I thought that my NASCAR like driving skills were beating the satellites and causing my Google Maps to lose entire pieces of highway yet keep perfect time on my estimated arrival. Being a self-proclaimed expert navigator from numerous trips around the country in the era of the AAA TripTik, I decided to ignore the woman's voice completely and follow the silent map thumbing my way through the transitions and marking my position on the highway. My mother and her trusting heart however listened intently to the words coming from her Garmin and it led her all the way... to someone's house. 

When she told me that I laughed so hard, both on the phone and in her face every time she brought it up. It was the funniest thing in the world and I just couldn't figure out how in the world she could trust turning into a sub-division to get to the Omni Hotel. I laughed even harder when on our way from Opryland the little lady in my phone lead me to Terminal A of the Nashville Airport. Apparently Omni Hotel is a part-time CIA safe house and any attempts to navigate directly will be thwarted at all costs. My mom gets nervous when I laugh and drive, but there was no way that I was going to let myself off the hook for the same thing she did. It was funny as hell, and I had to go for it. Full on cackle.

Nashville= (Atlanta + Country Music) - Bourgeois Black People  
 When I walked my brown and kinky nearly 6ft tall self into a lobby full of not even "other" brown people I braced myself for the interactions that are to be expected. I felt like a Wesen in a room full of Grimms. My negroidian danger meter was at High Alert Orange. Yet I tucked away my apprehension in my best toothy smile and got the key to wait on Mom. 

Once she finally made it from visiting those people that the GPS sent her to we hit the town in search of sustenance. We got snubbed at the Mellow Mushroom but by the lack of parking and the line that formed at the door, they were probably just horribly managed, because they weren't busy.

When in doubt, eat at home... Panera Bread. My first employer never lets me down, and wouldn't you know it we found some black people. The homecoming was topped with the Green Tea and the Lemonade being included at the beverage bar instead of tucked behind the counter.
Free Refills on a Green Arnold? Can we eat here again tomorrow? 

 By the end of the first evening we had only seen one other black person that was not in a uniform but my frantic Google search of "What do black people do in Nashville?" assured me that there was a happy hour that night with plenty of "us"...(read this part slowly) with a free soul food buffet, and 3 for 1 drinks, and no cover. Once again I found myself checking the negroidian danger meter as darkness fell and that sweet deal went from sounding like a great idea to an elaborate trap. That much liquor with zero discretion at the door? No thanks this time. I was able to get confirmation from my cheer sister from the way back that 5-8pm is the window of safety, so if we go to Nashville again, we're prepared. 

Saturday was jam packed with all of the sight-seeing that a person can stand. We shopped at Greenhills and The Gulch, drove down Broadway (way too many people to actually try and hang), drank from the I Love Juice Bar, walked through the Parthenon and ate in the Opryland area. 

As the day progressed and we got out of the immediate downtown area the diversity increased. However, we noticed that all of the tourist places (excluding The Parthenon and Opryland) felt like Atlanta. The Gulch= Atlantic Station, Broadway= Peters Street, Vanderbilt University Area= Emory University Area.  It's as if this is what happened to everyone that used to live in Gwinnett County, GA... White-lanta. Feel free to use that one!

Girl WHET? Moments-
Moment 1. Hungry and tired we stand in the lobby of the hotel waiting for valet to bring my car up after I had called from upstairs. Along comes the third black person that we saw, not in uniform, carrying a pizza. We're both clocking her hoping we can get a chance to ask her where that pizza is from or catch a name on the box. To our luck she's a delivery driver and she's got to come past us again. The minute she crosses the door in the breezeway I blurt out "Hey, where's that pizza from?" since we see that she's at work. A long pause filled with a teeth click, an umm and circular hand gestures finally ends with her saying "It's this place called Dolce Vita or something." I meter my facial expression, I'm still looking normal and I reply "Oh ok, thanks." She steps out the door and me and Mom look at eachother and simultaneously say "Whaaat?" then start laughing. How the hell don't you know where you work? The lady came back with a menu and we decided to fill in her back story by saying she was running a delivery service contracted out. We have no clue, but we had to fix her up, she was our #3 and that was crazy. (Side note: That pizza is life giving)

Moment 2.Waiting in the complimentary valet line at the mall, we notice that the line seems to be at a halt. We thought that we saw our #4 but turns out he was parking cars and didn't have his whole uniform on yet. The line suddenly starts going around one particular car. By the time it's my turn to go around the car in my approach to the valet stand a woman comes walking out of the Starbucks, coffee in hand, completely unbothered. Yes that heffa went and got her coffee and said to hell with this line, I'm getting my Oprah Chai. Mom and I started cracking up once we gathered that whole scenario. Everybody in that line was so mad at her, and she didn't give a single care. 

Moment 3."Ooh let's order Room Service." -Me
   "Yeah, hand me that menu... oh yeah, they've got Shrimp & Gri- $25!" -Mom

Moment 4. We never did figure out why there was a microwave in the hallway of the hotel. First it was holding some dishes, and then it was all by itself. 

Moment 5. Dog tag chain= $0.15 Old file cabinet key=$0.45 ... engraved key on a dog tag chain= $40.00. Clearly we need to get on board with trying to sell cheap stuff at high prices to Talyor Swift and all her celebrity friends. I had to talk to my mother's inner Vine Street in a calm and soothing voice to keep her from hollering "hail-naw"out loud in those people's fine establishment... I was also preaching to myself. 
Live Like Old People-
We talked a lot on this trip in the car rides and one of the stand-out points of the trip is to "live like old people". This means to make decisions like you're living in your last 10-15. The Capricorn/Cancer conversation pattern can go pretty dark but we were so in tuned that nobody ended up crying or angry. We just agreed that life is too short to not do things that you really feel like doing. This manifested itself when the trip to the Country Music Hall of Fame, connected to our hotel, turned into the day of riding all around the city.

 My mom has a habit of abrupt awakenings between 3-4am. She only did that once this trip and when she woke up she had some words of wisdom after her solo half-sleep rendition of "Happy Birthday to Me".
   "If God keeps waking you up every day then you've got something else to do. If you don't wake up, then you've done everything that was in your plan" to that I added "hopefully". 

This trip had zero agenda. One of the Directors at my job travels to Nashville all the time and she gave me a document with all of the potential things to do and see while there. That helped us tremendously in making impromptu decisions, and let us have some "Retirement Practice" (a phrase stolen from one of my co-workers). Old people only do exactly what they want, and nothing else. #Lifegoals

Final Thoughts
This trip had lots of firsts, in that we've never done anything like this before in my life. Every trip that we've ever taken has been tied to some mandatory activity. Yes even that time we went to Disney World when I was a kid, I was in a karate tournament. We have spent lots of time traveling together, but no time actually vacationing and I am super grateful to have had the opportunity to see another side of my mom,  as well as let her get to know more about me. 

My mom and I used to get into it so bad when I was a teenager that my Granny would say, "Y'all better stop, one day the Lord is going to make it to where you can't see eachother again, and this is all you'll have to remember." Well now we can look back and  think "Remember that trip to Nashville?"